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False claim: Video shows Italian coronavirus patient being chased after escaping from hospital

A video circulating on social media allegedly shows an Italian Coronavirus patient escaping from a hospital ( here , here , here ).

The description of the video reads: “A Corona Italian patient runs away from the hospital”. Some posts also misleadingly say the “patient” is escaping from an “isolation facility” instead of a hospital ( here ). The 14 second video with these claims shows a man running away from two people dressed in white Hazmat suits on a street crossroad while yelling “help, help!” It has at least 330 shares and 925 reactions on Facebook as of March 11, 2020.

The claims attributed to this video are false. The video does not show an Italian COVID-19 patient escaping from a hospital nor an isolation facility. While Reuters could not find the original source of the video, a higher quality version of the footage was shared at earlier times on satirical U.S. pages. A geolocation search also shows this video was not recorded in Italy but in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

On February 27, 2020, the entertainment Facebook page Viral Lads ( here ) posted the video as satire with the caption “When you test positive for coronavirus” alongside a laughing emoji a few days prior to the claims linking it to Italy (see here ).

It was also posted on Reddit in the “R/funny” section by user “u/taylor2121” on March 2, 2020 with the caption “What is the coronavirus is going on here?”, further strengthening the notion the video was meant for comedy. The post was later removed by Reddit moderators. According to Reddit “Moderators remove posts from feeds from a variety of reasons, including keeping communities safe, civil and true to their purpose”. ( here ). "Commentary on COVID-19 (as well as the many tangential situations that it has prompted) is considered to be memetic at this point, given that a great many people have taken to intentionally emulating a number of behaviors associated with it. (As an example, please see the myriad images of people posing with Corona beer.) As such, posts about the virus are removed under Rule 2", a Reddit Moderator told Reuters. 

The video was not recorded in Italy and this was verified by geolocation. There is a flag from Kean University, a public New Jersey University, hanging on a light post, visible nine seconds into the video. The shops in the background of the video (such as “Chupitos” on the corner, located at 296 Morris Ave, Elizabeth, NJ) are visible on Google Street View, at NJ27 and Morris Avenue, confirming this was filmed in the town of Elizabeth in New Jersey. Google Street View of the video’s scene can be seen bit.ly/39PdbwE .

As of March 10, 2020 there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Elizabeth ( www.epsnj.org/domain/3176 ).

Over 10,000 people have become infected in Italy in little over two weeks. According to the Civil Protection Agency, the death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the European country has jumped by 168 to 631, an increase of 36%, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light ( here ).

This video does not show an Italian coronavirus patient escaping from a hospital nor an isolation facility. The footage was shot in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Earlier versions suggest it was most likely recorded as staged comedy.

VERDICT

False: Video does not portray an Italian Coronavirus patient escaping from a hospital, it was recorded in Elizabeth, New Jersey, presumably as satire

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